Lollipop, Lollipop, oh-lalli-lalli-pop! Read all about this week’s “Store Spotlight with Lollipops Children’s Shop in Latham, New York. Chris Coletta, owner of Lollipops Children’s Shop, gives us the story of moving store locations without a credit card machine and her top sales ever, her favorite children’s book and 3 tips to owning a successful children’s boutique.
1. Have you always been interested in entering the children’s business? What was your background prior?
Chris: Ever since I had my two girls who are now 30 and 25-years-old, I have always been interested in children’s clothing. When they were born, I used to dress them to the nines! At ages 4 and 9, I decided that I wanted to open up our shop and called it Lollipops Children’s Shop. I opened the store because I loved the outfits that I dressed the girls in so much and there weren’t any kids shops around where I could buy this types of clothing – they were my inspiration!
Prior to the store, I didn’t have children’s apparel experience, but more of a passion with the support of my wonderful husband, Dennis.
2. The name of your store reminds of me of something whimsical like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – I am envisioning lollipops everywhere and sweet kids shopping! – Where did the name come from?
Chris: During the process of naming our store, my husband Dennis and I were looking through pictures of children and found two children holding lollipops stepping into a box, so that is where it came from!
3. Are you a New York native? If so, what did you do growing up as a kid in the local area? Describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.
Chris: Yes, I am! We are from upstate New York near Albany. My cousins all lived down the street, and it was a great place to grow up. Our store is located in a beautiful affluent neighborhood, and is in a strip mall with other retail stores and restaurants.
4. What is your favorite kid book and why?
Chris: The book that came to mind is the Little Engine that Could because the premise of the book is about really wanting something and making it happen. Dennis and I really related to this in wanting to open our store – it is how we approach our business.
5. What is 1 tip you would give a parent on how to update your child’s wardrobe for summer?
Chris: I would probably tell a customer to buy some basic bottoms (solid color or a khaki) for the summer and fun tops to switch up the outfit. Then buy a trendy accessory like a bow or hat to make it look special.
6. Who is your target customer?
Chris: Our target customers are new parents and grandparents that want something special for their children. Oh – and also love to find beautiful gifts.
7. Any Celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?
Chris: This spring Tony Dovolani from DWTS (Dancing With The Stars) stopped in! We also had a very good customer who would buy for the musician James Taylor’s twins when they were babies until when they were 5 and 6 years old!
8. What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?
- Knowing your customers’ wants and needs
- Building long and lasting relationships with your customers
- Go above and beyond for your customers. For example, we take special orders and offer complimentary gift wrap.
- I know it is supposed to be 3 keys to success, but a 4th key is to be in the store! I am in the store 90% of the time because as an owner, you should always be there, and even though I have great employees who are trained the way I would personally do sales, it is important to show your face on the floor.
9. If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Chris: You have to be willing to spend most of the time at the store and know the business. It is the most important thing. Build relationships! A lot of returning customers become family to you. You end up thinking about those customers with personal relationships when you are buying at the trade shows.
10. What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Chris: We were originally at our 1st location for 12 years. Then 10 years ago, the owners of a local mall came to us and we decided to move…we we’re nervous at first, but it was an unbelievable change. We closed our original store location on the evening of June 30th and opened at the new store location the morning of July 1st. We didn’t even have a credit card machine and it was our busiest day in our business EVER. We weren’t even dressed for business – I was still in my sneakers and customers were buying right off the rack. It made us feel good about the move and location. We have now been in business a total of 22 years.
11. What collection or piece from Le Top and/or rabbit moon do you heart most from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
Chris: My favorite collections were the girl ‘Daisy Duck’ collection and the boy ‘Gone Fishin’ collection because customers love that combination of mixing and matching.
LOLLIPOPS CHILDREN’S SHOP
594 New Loudon Rd.
Latham, NY 12110